The Balance of Probability:A Statistically Based Analysis of the Linguistic Character of the "Biblical" Dead Sea Scrolls

  • Jarod Jacobs

Student thesis: Phd


The linguistic character of the "biblical" Dead Sea Scrolls has been of interest to scholars since the very beginning of scrolls research. However, scholars have disagreed over the nature of the language found in those scrolls. Some argue that the "biblical" scrolls are essential to our understanding of Second Temple Hebrew, while others set these scrolls aside in favour of the non-biblical texts. Yet, no one has undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the "biblical" scrolls, which is essential if we hope to settle this debate.This study fills that void by providing a comprehensive analysis of all the "biblical" DSS. Over forty different features are discussed through a comparison between the "biblical" scrolls and the other major witnesses to the Hebrew Bible. Current linguistic theories, including robust inferential statistical tools, are utilised within the analysis in order to provide conclusions based on sound methodology. This study begins with a global analysis of all the "biblical" scrolls, focusing on a comparison between the plene and defective manuscripts. Through that analysis, this study concludes that there are very few linguistic modernisations found in the "biblical" scrolls. In order to verify this conclusion, five individual scrolls are analysed. Finally, this study closes by providing a qualitative analysis of the "biblical" scrolls and shows their linguistic character to be most consistent with a scribal culture of linguistic stability and textual authority.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGeorge Brooke (Supervisor) & Todd Klutz (Supervisor)


  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Hebrew Linguistics

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